This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
I was talking to a local small grocery store owner about why her she can't carry certain products in her ready-made section. Turns out things like local meat-filled cassava pasties and meat pies cannot be sold by a grocery store unless they they are produced in a continuously inspected USDA facility, no easy thing for a small local business to open.
Except sandwiches. If you take that same meat and put it between two (not one) pieces of nice wheaty bread, it magically becomes safe to sell! No, it's not OK to bake the meat in the bread, like a pie, it has to be real American sandwich with two normal pieces of bread.
Product must contain at least 35 percent cooked meat and no more than 50 percent bread. Sandwiches are not amenable to inspection. If inspection is requested for this product, it may be granted under reimbursable Food Inspection Service. Typical —closed-faced“ sandwiches consisting of two slices of bread or the top and bottom sections of a sliced bun that enclose meat or poultry, are not amenable to the Federal meat and poultry inspection laws. Therefore, they are not required to be inspected nor bear the marks of inspection when distributed in interstate commerce.
What is the mechanism behind two pieces of bread making the meat safer? It must not be working, since many pre-made sandwiches have tested positive for listeria.
A meat pie is also perfectly legal to buy when made in a restaurant. Most restaurants are inspected once a year.
Another one to file under nonsensical food regulations. There should be a middle way that allows small local businesses to market their meat-containing products without investing in a full USDA inspected plant.